Welcome to the Space Show Movie Review

Hopefully G-Kids will add more anime movies to Kanopy, because the ones I’ve watched have been fifty-fifty. Patema Inverted ended up being an E.T. ripoff on the most superficial, empty level. But conversely, Welcome to the Space Show– today’s topic- ended up being an E.T. ripoff with just the right amount of whimsy to become something with its own identity.

In Welcome to the Space Show, five kids- Natsuki, Amane, Noriko, Kiyoshi, and Koji- go out to search for their missing rabbit when they find an injured dog instead. Of course, this dog is actually a space dog named Pochi. As a reward for saving him, Pochi takes the kids to a massive alien city on the moon. 

To briefly touch on the art style, Space Show has a lot of abstract and bizarre setpieces and scenes. This is where I would normally assume that there’s some pretentious pseudo-symbolism. However, based on the sheer off-the-deep-endness of the movie, that really isn’t the case. The basic theme of Space Show is just weird for the sake of weird, and it doesn’t care if you’re confused.

And it does get confusing. Although there is enough  foreshadowing to have continuity, the way everything all comes together results in a massive “WTF?!” at the end. As expected, the climax is about as absurd and over-the-top as it gets. Saying that they fight a giant cyborg dragon above an autonomous salaryman planet during a livestream being broadcast to the entire universe isn’t even a spoiler, just because describing the plot of Space Show is impossible no matter how hard you try. I could be a critic, and say, “Oh, visual spectacle is technically impressive, but it doesn’t justify the mindless [insert smart-sounding word here] BS”, but I won’t.

It’s because of the main characters that the mindless BS is justified. While these kids aren’t particularly interesting, they are definitely kids at heart. Normally, I’d dislike any “human” protagonists, because of my fierce antisocialness, but kids are an exception. Children, when not tainted by the many adults who seek to manipulate them, are the most pure, innocent, and lovable by far. The other characters aren’t that interesting outside of their designs, and the relationship between Pochi and certain other individuals isn’t entirely clear (i.e. it’s interpretive).

Of course, I can only justify so much. The movie does have some of those eye-roll-worthy tropes that tend to be in a lot of family friendly movies. First off, Kiyoshi has a whole plot line with his dead dad that means absolutely nothing. Plus, there’s the typical “let’s be dejected for fifteen minutes and abruptly bounce back after we say some sappy junk as if we weren’t even drowning in despair in the first place.” It’s kind of something you can’t avoid in these movies, so you’ll just have to deal with it.

Finally, the visuals. Space Show is stunning in every sense of the word. It’s abstract and colorful, with tons of beautiful landscape shots with a myriad of bizarre vistas. The aliens are all kinds of weird shapes (and there are a LOT of kissy lips attached to things). The animation is smooth like water, and all the characters are super expressive. It holds up really well for a decade old movie. Just be wary of anthropomorphic stuff if you’re against furries.

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Final Verdict: 9.15/10

Welcome to the Space Show is a great anime movie, and a great showcase of that childlike wonder that seven billion too many of us lose with age. Seeing it makes me wonder how A-1 Pictures became the mainstream-catering studio that they are generally known as today. I get that anime being by the same studio doesn’t really mean it’s the EXACT same team, but as far as I know, they haven’t made anything as bizarre as this at all in recent years. Well, regardless of the history of A-1 Pictures, Space Show is a fun film, and I recommend it to fans of E.T. and those who want something wiggety-whack.

Edens Zero First Impressions (Volumes 1-5)

Hiro Mashima’s Fairy Tail was the fourth manga I ever read. Although I was still sensitive towards fanservice at the time, and exclaimed “Mashima!” every time something stupid happened, I still loved its pacing and youthful energy to pieces. But in 2017, I- and many others- finished the series disappointed. The plot became so convoluted that it went beyond its own standards of suspended disbelief, and not even the fights were fun anymore. But none of that backlash would stop Mashima from creating a new series, Edens Zero (published in English by Kodansha Comics), not even a year after Fairy Tail‘s ending. Let’s see if it’s any good.

Shiki is an orphan boy who lives with robots in the abandoned theme park, Granbell. When a human girl named Rebecca appears, the robots try to execute her; he saves her and they escape into space.  However, all of this was an act to get Shiki off the planet. This is the start of their epic quest to find Mother, who is basically a genderswap King of All Cosmos from Katamari.

A lot of people complained about Fairy Tail for making a drinking game out of the word “friendship”, and yeah… I’ll admit that it did get redundant. That redundancy still carries over to Edens Zero, now in the form of a meme where Shiki tries to touch everyone he sees like Patrick Star at a jellyfishing convention. I admit, it does get kind of annoying at times.

There’s also a lot of that Mashima “WTF is going on?”. Volume 1 ends with a brief, 20,000 year time skip, then volume 2 starts with a cute space girl telling the reader that time holds no meaning in Edens Zero. Then, our heroes end up on this planet that’s fifty years in the past, while the rest of space is still in the present. Plus, there’s all this intrigue surrounding the Demon King that raised Shiki, and what Mother’s role is in the story. In the afterword, Mashima’s stated that he’s improvising Edens Zero more than Rave, but not as much as Fairy Tail, which puts it right in the middle in terms of story planning. It’s impossible to truly tell what happens at this juncture. Even though it seems that they’re one MacGuffin away from being able to start the final arc (after five volumes), it IS still a battle shounen, and those always find a way to not end, even if it would’ve been within reason to.

Characters are always the bread of battle shounen (with art being the butter), and Edens Zero has some seriously whole grain bread. Shiki is your average, dumb shounen protagonist, but he has the power of gravity on his side. His ability doesn’t just affect mass; he can also change its direction, bringing himself away from opponents, or bringing those opponents closer to his fist.

Rebecca is pretty much Lucy from Fairy Tail, except she’s a space YouTuber- called a B-Cuber- and goes on this whole quest just for more subscribers. Happy makes a return from Fairy Tail, except this time he’s a robot that turns into guns. They also recruit a young professor named Wiesz, with his ability to modify any machinery in a flash, and Pino, a cute loli-robot that can use an EMP to stop machinery in its tracks. A cute Best Girl named Homura tags along; she’s super powerful, but has the hilarious quirk of speaking her thoughts out loud without meaning to. There are also some good antagonists, but most of them, so far, are throwaway villains, with the more interesting looking ones merely being teased (such as the new leader of one of Fairy Tail’s Dark Guilds that’s managed to survive into the space age).

Oh, and if you looked at any artwork for Edens Zero and thought you saw Best Girl Erza Scarlet, you’d be wrong. That’s the space pirate Elsie Crimson. She seems to be just as brawn-over-brain as the beloved Erza, but she hasn’t done much in the story at this time. 

Mashima’s art is as good as ever. He’s always been great at drawing cartoony, expressive characters (especially cute girls), and the sci-fi setting lets him try some crazy new ideas. The action scenes are as flashy as always, even if there isn’t much emotional tension early on. But there is still a lot of that Mashima fanservice, and it’s amped up by the designated sexy, body-tight clothes of the future.

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Current Verdict: 8.7/10

Edens Zero is great so far. If this manga doesn’t get axed, and actually ends on a good note, it’ll likely surpass Fairy Tail in every way. I highly recommend it to any battle shounen and Mashima fans!